Rare flashes of wit and energy, mostly drowned out by a sea of self-indulgent ramblings.


Humorist Ames (Wake Up, Sir!, 2004, etc.) presents previously published essays detailing the various ways in which he's stumbled, failed, disappointed himself and others and, occasionally, triumphed.

Ames seems to forever be searching for new ways to reveal his foibles to the reading public; for this author, there is no topic too intimate, sexual or scatological to share. But his latest collection lacks verve, drive and focus. Mostly, it feels lazy, or in need of a strong editor. Here, Ames rambles through personal anecdotes, discussing, among other things, a depressing interaction with a French prostitute, his irritable bowel syndrome, the details of a sex show in Amsterdam and a funny but still melancholy encounter with a suburban dominatrix, made more poignant by the fact that Ames had told his mother and child that he'd be at the library, working (the essay is made correspondingly less poignant by the maudlin way Ames beats his breast over his iniquities). Picking cysts, scratching his crotch, pondering the cause of his perplexingly itchy posterior, Ames invites readers along for all of it. He also frequently discusses his penis, in essays such as “Oh, Pardon my Hard-On,” “My Wiener Is Damaged!” and “How I Almost Committed Suicide Because of a Wart.” There are a couple of strong pieces—the titular essay is a warm reminiscence of visiting a beloved elderly aunt, and “Called Myself El Cid” is a lively account of Ames's days on the Princeton fencing team. In general, however, the author discusses his various shortcomings in a tone exuding regret, longing, gnawing professional envy and a self-absorption that allows him to publish work that is both exhibitionist and deeply self-critical.

Rare flashes of wit and energy, mostly drowned out by a sea of self-indulgent ramblings.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-8021-7017-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Black Cat/Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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